Summary – Stretching is an important part of fitness because proper stretching will not only make your workout better, but it will also make your muscles flexible by keeping you active and healthy. Below are some yoga poses that you can incorporate into your practice regularly to see the improvement.
Despite its recent popularity, yoga is an ancient, classical practice with roots in Indian spiritual traditions. Whether you are new to yoga or have been practicing for a while, you should always stretch after or before a workout as it helps to relax your muscles. Stretching in the morning is a great way to start your day by getting some movement in your body, which will help wake up your muscles and joints, as well as your mind. Stretching requires movement of the body as well as deep breathing, which relaxes the muscles by regulating blood circulation. Yoga poses increase your strength and flexibility level by placing your body in unusual positions for a prolonged period of time. These practices are called asanas which can benefit your body in various ways like it can improve your flexibility, it helps in releasing tension in your limbs, build muscle strength, helps in improving your balance and many more. Most of the popular yoga stretches vary from beginner to moderate difficulty levels, which can be easily learned with the help of a certified yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.
There are yoga stretching poses mentioned below that will help you loosen your stiff muscles, relieve tension throughout your body and exercise without causing any injury to the body. So, read below to delve deeper into the poses.
Yoga Poses to Help Stretch Your Body
- Downward Facing Dog – This pose stretches the entire body and is one of the most popular poses in yoga. It stretches your calves, hamstrings and Achilles tendons while strengthening your shoulders and arms. It opens your shoulders and chest by stretching your spine evenly. To continue this exercise, place your body on your knees and palms and place your hands slightly in front of your shoulders with your fingers spread wide. Exhale as you tuck your toes as you lift your knees off the floor, pushing the floor away from you as you extend your elbow by lifting your entire body upward in an inverted V-shape. When you are ready, hold the pose for at least 10-15 seconds while breathing deeply.
- Child's Pose – Balasana is a resting pose that helps stretch your lower and upper body. This pose helps stretch the lower back, shoulders, ankles, hips and quads. It is a beginner pose that stretches and relaxes the muscles while promoting flexibility and helps in circulation to the joints, back and muscles. To begin this exercise, sit on your knees, keeping your toes together while keeping your knees apart. Sit with your spine straight, take a deep breath and as you exhale, bend forward, placing your torso between your thighs and your arms on the floor next to your torso, letting your shoulder drop toward the floor.
- Plow Pose – The Sanskrit name “Halasana” is an inverted yoga pose that stretches the lower back, neck, and shoulders while rejuvenating the nervous system. This pose is usually practiced at the end of a yoga session as it relaxes and calms the brain, heart and nerves. It also helps improve the flexibility of the spine. To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs straight. As you inhale, use your abdominal muscles to lift your hips and legs toward the ceiling, gently lifting your back and moving your feet further away from your head. Beginners can use their hand to support their back with their arms with the hands close to the shoulder blades while holding the position for 8-10 breaths.
- Butterfly Pose – This is the most popular pose for beginners. The Sanskrit name “Baddha Konasana” helps in stretching your adductors, groin and thighs. This pose helps in stimulating your kidneys and ovaries, and it also reduces menstrual discomfort. It is one of the easiest stretches that works the most on your inner thighs. To continue this pose, sit on the floor with your hands on your thighs. As you exhale, bend your knees and bring your heels close to your pelvic area, connecting the soles of your feet. The next step is to drop the knees to the floor while holding the soles of the feet together with your hand. Hold the pose for 4-5 minutes, and to gain more flexibility, you can also slowly flap your knees in an up and down motion.
- Head-to-Knee Pose – Sanskrit for “Janu Sirsasana”, this is a seated pose that stretches your hamstrings, abdominal muscles and spine. Remember to practice this asana in the morning on an empty stomach or in the evening after a gap of 4 to 5 hours since your last snack. It helps in stimulating the kidneys and liver and also reduces anxiety, headaches and cures insomnia. To perform this pose, sit upright with your legs stretched forward and your hands resting on your sides. Bend your right knee by touching the heel of the foot to the middle of the calf with the toes pointing up. As you inhale, bend forward by resting your forehead on the left knee while holding the toes of an extended leg. Hold this position for 8-10 breaths to energize your spine. Repeat the same pose with the left leg. This pose also helps relieve knee pain.
So, yoga is the right choice for healthy stretching, and it also benefits your body and mind in several ways. The poses above will help you stretch and strengthen the major muscles of your body by removing the stiffness. So, start with these amazingly effective stretching exercises to see the results.
Author bio: Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organize 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh. Bipin Baloni conducts Yoga Teacher Training in India in different cities. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.